Scan & Scram

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Nearly $32 billion has been spent online this holiday season thus far.
That’s a 15% increase from the corresponding days of 2010.

THOUGHT:  Each year we break the record online holiday sales mark from the previous year.

All of the factors I’ve been talking about this year are pushing this trend: Consumers’ need to save time and money, the convenience shopping from home affords, the desire to avoid crowds, better selection and prices online, and, most significantly, I think, the superior online experience of shopping on a tablet.

The primary significant reasons that remain for actually traveling to a physical store is to touch and feel the merchandise and for the social experience.

But social shopping can now be defined in many ways, not just the actual act of shopping together in the same store.

And for many products, once you’re familiar with them, there’s no real need to inspect them physically. I figured out long ago, for example, the exact type and brand of football I like to buy; I wouldn’tve dreamed of buying a football sight-unseen. You have to feel the ball, hold it in your hands, toss it a few times, before you can determine whether or not it will fit your needs. But once I determine which football is right for me, there’s no need to physically inspect the product. I know what I’m getting. It’s more convenient buying it online.

Bricks and mortar retailers have also got the additional Scan & Scram phenomena to deal with where “customers” visit a store to physically inspect a product, and then scan the bar code to find the best price for that product either online or at a nearby competitor.

Amazon even has a smart phone app for that called, appropriately enough, Price Check. You scan a bar code and it will give you the price for the product at Amazon, offer you a chance to buy it at Amazon, and gives you a chance to submit the price of the item for the store in which you are scanning. [WATCH]

So what’s a poor bricks and mortar retailer to do? How do you compete with Amazon?

You’re not likely to do it on price so what gives?

I think we’re heading toward a future where commodity goods will for the most part be bought online but where there will be a market for bricks and mortar retailers who offer unique or custom goods. Yesterday, for example, a Tunheim colleague was telling me about her sister’s store in California, Urban Bazaar, that carries crafts from artisans who sell their creations on Etsy.

Small local retailers might start highlighting their staff’s expertise and punching up their online personality in order to build trusted relationships. Shoppers are often looking as much for advice as they are for an actual product and they’ll be more likely to buy from someone they know and trust.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: YouTube Rewind 2011 compiles the ten most popular videos at YouTube for the past year. [WATCH the Top 10 YouTube Videos of 2011]

Thank you for plenty.


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